The introduction of Armando Broja last week meant a special new chapter was written in the Chelsea history books...
It means now so far this season eight Academy graduates have made their men's first team bow: Mason Mount, Billy Gilmour, Ian Maatsen, Tino Anjorin, Reece James, Marc Guehi, Tariq Lamptey, and now Broja. That is the most ever since Billy Birrell launched his Chelsea Juniors scheme in the 1940s, surpassing the seven handed out by Ken Shellito and Danny Blanchflower in the 1978/79 season. (Ted Drake also blooded six in 1956/57.)
It should come as no surprise, really. Between them, the homegrown Blues have already proved they are among the elite of their age group, serial winners of the UEFA Youth League, FA Youth Cup, and other titles. They are now starting to show the same at senior level.
Against Everton, the absence of senior central midfielders Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, and Mateo Kovacic cleared a path to the first team, but Frank Lampard made it clear Billy Gilmour had earned his first Premier League start on merit, maintaining a high standard since his elevation to the senior squad in January.
The Scotland Under-21 international, so assured he was swiftly dubbed ‘Billiesta’, was one of three players aged 18 or younger to take the field for the Blues, the others being substitutes Anjorin and Broja. No Premier League side has fielded that many at the same time since May 2016, when West Bromwich Albion drew 1-1 with Liverpool.
It seems the future really is blue.